This virtually means a gag order for party leaders like Manish Tewari and Rashid Alvi, who speak on a lot of issues. Both have reacted sharply.
"Only the spokespersons in the linked list are authorised to speak on behalf of the party", Ajai Maken, AICC General Secretary and the Congress' Media Department chief tweeted, attaching a list of five senior spokespersons and 13 spokespersons on Twitter.
Former union minister Manish Tewari, no more a spokesperson, also took to Twitter to declare, "There are certain core convictions I believe in, When they are assaulted I do not require a noun... or a adjective behind my noun to intervene in the public discourse (sic)."
In a series of other tweets, he also said, "I ceased to be National Spokesperson of the INC in Oct 2012.When I intervene in the public discourse I do as an ordinary Cong worker... who has served the party for 34 yrs (sic)."
I ceased to be National Spokesperson of the INC in Oct 2012.When I intervene in the public discourse I do as an ordinary Cong worker contd-- Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) September 15, 2014
contd..who has served the party for 34 yrs. There are certain core convictions I believe in. When they are assaulted I do not require a noun-- Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) September 15, 2014
contd or a adjective behind my noun to intervene in the public discourse as as a party activist I do not hold myself out as the Spokesperson-- Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) September 15, 2014
A defiant Rashid Alvi too said, "I always defend Congress party as an ordinary worker and I will continue to defend Congress party. I feel it is my responsibility as this is a very crucial time as the communal forces have not only taken over the country but are spreading communalism."
He also said that Congressmen "should not fight and humiliate each other", seeming to suggest internal rivalry among party leaders for media space.
Both Mr Tewari and Mr Alvi were removed last year from the panel of spokespersons. Some of their recent comments have not found favour with the party leadership. For example, when the Narendra Modi government appointed the former Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam as the Governor of Kerala, a senior spokesperson of the Congress had severely criticized the decision. Mr Tewari, however, had taken a somewhat different position. Though there is no legal or constitutional bar in appointing a former judge as a Governor, Mr Tewari argued, the issue required a thorough debate. (Ex-Chief Justice as Governor? 'Which Verdict Pleased Modi, Amit Shah?', Asks Congress)
The Congress has, however, denied that today's move was intended to gag "any particular leader."